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Improving ESL Students' Skills Through English Language Songs

written by: Khaye Mydette Sy Cardenas Macalinao • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 1/5/2012

Since songs are an exaggeration of speech, using music increases awareness of different aspects of language. This article includes a stress-free listening activity that teaches listening comprehension and new vocabulary words through a song!

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    Music : A Fun Way to Acquire a New Language

    When you want to improve your listening skills, music is the fun way to learn. When we listen to a song, we memorize and understand it better than we would by just reading it. This is because we don't feel the stress of learning. Songs create “atmosphere" that makes the learning process enjoyable. Read on and try this great listening activity that will surely be a hit in your class.

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    The Must-Try Activity

    Materials:

    • CD of the song “A Whole New World" performed by Lea Salonga and Brad Kane (from Walt Disney's movie, "Aladdin" )
    • CD player
    • Cloze exercise worksheet (download a sample here)
    • Aladdin's video clip (optional)

    Duration: 30 minutes

    Age: 13-25 years old

    Level: Intermediate-Advanced

    Warm-up:

    Ask your students what their favorite song is and what makes that song their favorite. Tell them that they are about to listen to the song "A Whole New World" by Lea Salonga and Brad Kane then ask them to predict what the song is about based on its title. (Note: You may choose another song, just keep in mind that your choice of song must depend on the age, interest, and proficiency level of your students)

    Motivation:

    Ask your students if they have watched the movie “Aladdin." Tell them that the song they're about to listen to is a soundtrack of that movie. Give a short background of "Aladdin" or you may show a video clip.

    Objective:

    To develop listening comprehension and to learn new vocabulary words.

    Methods:

    1. Play the song and let your students pay close attention while listening.
    2. Play the song again and let them fill in the blanks in the worksheet you have provided.
    3. Let the class read the lyrics aloud.
    4. Play the song again and then make your students correct their mistakes.
    5. Let your students check the meaning of unfamiliar words using their dictionaries.
    6. Talk about the new words together. Discussion should be done informally.
    7. Let them share what the song is about.
    8. Play the song and encourage everyone to sing.
    9. Lastly, offer a bundle of praise.

    Post Activity

    Ask your students to relate the song to their real-life experiences. Then summarize the lesson by asking them to recall the new vocabulary words learned.

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    Helpful Reminders

    Some reminders before doing this activity in class:

    1. Set a clear objective for using music. Each activity should have a specific learning purpose. Are the students going to listen for new vocabulary? Will they need to look for specific details? Are they going to learn a new grammar lesson? Keep in mind that using songs in classrooms are not used to just fill the time. They must be really educational.

    2. Know the age and language proficiency level of the students to be able to choose the correct music to use. For example, if your students are in kindergarten through grade two, you may choose nursery rhymes. But if your students are in advanced level and they are adult learners, then you must choose a song appropriate for their age.